The goal of noble living, is to gather new virtue and grace — from all life’s struggles, cares and sorrows.
A mark of a noble character — is a desire to do hard things!
The man who seeks only easy things — will never make much of his life.
One who is afraid of hard work — will never achieve anything worthwhile.
In an art gallery, before a lovely masterpiece, a young artist said to Ruskin, “Ah! If only I could put such a dream on canvas.” “Dream on canvas!” growled the old master. “It will take ten thousand touches of the brush on the canvas — to put your dream there.” No doubt, many beautiful dreams die in the brains and hearts of people — for lack of effort to make them realities.
In all departments of life — this indolent, easy-going way of getting on in life — is working its mischief. People do only what is easy — and never grapple with anything that is hard.
Indolence is the bane of countless lives! They do not rise — because they have not the courage and persistence to climb!
There are too many people who try to shirk the hard things. They want to get along as easily as possible. They have ambition of a certain sort — but it is ambition to have the victory without the battle; to get the gold without digging for it. They would like to be learned and wise — but they do not care to toil in study, and burn the midnight oil, as they must do — if they would realize their desire. They may have a certain longing to be noble and Christlike, with a character that will command respect and confidence — but they have not the spirit of self-denial and of earnest moral purpose, which alone can produce such a character.
They may want to be godly and to grow into worthy manhood — but lack that passionate earnestness which alone will yield vigorous piety, and manly virtue, and the heroic qualities of true Christlikeness. Mere “holy dreaming” will yield nothing better than spiritual effeminacy! No religion is worthy — which does not seek to attain the best things; and the best can be won only by the bravest struggle and the most persistent striving!
We should not forget, that no one ever did anything of great value in this world — without cost. A quaint old proverb says, “One cannot have an omelet — without breaking eggs!” If we would do anything really worth while, that will be a blessing in the world — we must put into it, not merely . . . easy efforts, languid sympathies, conventional good wishes, and courtesies that cost nothing.
We must put into it . . . thought, time, patience, self-denial, sleepless nights, and exhausting toil.
There is a legend of an artist who had found the secret of a wonderful “red” which no other artist could imitate. The secret of his “color” died with him. But after his death an old wound was discovered over his heart. This revealed the source of the matchless hue in his pictures. The lesson of the legend is . . . no great achievement can be made, no lofty attainment can be reached, nothing of much value to the world can be done — except at the cost of heart’s blood.
“I labor — struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me!” Colossians 1:29
J.R. Miller was a pastor and former editorial superintendent of the Presbyterian Board of Publication from 1880 to 1911. His works are now in the public domain.